Subjugated Nomads traces the historical transition of the Lambadas from a nomadic community to peasant subjects in Hyderabad State under the Nizams during colonial rule. The study spans nearly two centuries, from the early eighteenth to about the middle of the twentieth century.
The market economy and growth of transport hampered the Lambadas’ caravan trade. The state discouraged their nomadic ways, inducing them to become peasants, reclaiming wastelands and forest tracts. Since the zamindars claimed rights over wastelands, they extracted taxes. Exploitation by various agencies, such as moneylenders, and forest and revenue officials, reduced the Lambadas to working as bonded labourers on farms. During famines and the lull between farming seasons, some even resorted to dacoity, leading the state to brand them as a criminal community and relocate them as ‘criminal tribes’ under surveillance. Protracted suffering and victimisation compelled the Lambadas to revolt, an uprising that transformed into the Telangana armed struggle at the end of the Nizams’ rule.
The Lambadas had tried to respond to challenges through a programme of self-reform. From the 1820s, leaders emerged from within the community who rearticulated Lambada history, spiritual beliefs and culture. These found expression in their oral tradition, which was crucial in shaping their community identity, now a significant element in democratic politics.
This book will interest historians, anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, policy makers, and social activists working on advocacy and identity politics.
Bhangya Bhukya is Professor, Department of History, University of Hyderabad.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Note on Translation
Map of Hyderabad State in 1911, showing districts
1. The Twilight World of the Caravan: Regulated Market Economy and the Caravanners
2. Policing Cattle, Policing Nomads: Colonial Rationality and Cowherds
3. ‘Delinquent Subjects’: Dacoity and the Creation of a Surveillance Society
4. Modern Forms of Land Relations: Exploitation and Revolt
5. Articulating Cultural Differences, Contesting Power: The Consolidation of the Lambadas as a Social and Political Entity